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February 21, 2017 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Mishpatim

At the end of this week’s Torah, the Torah says Moses was “upon the mountain forty days and forty nights.” (Exodus 24:18).  What was Moses doing up there?

The most traditionalist Jews might argue that he was being given the “Oral Torah”- that is, the Mishnah, Talmud etc.  They use the idea of a Divinely-given Oral Torah as a justification for a halachic system that often addresses issues far removed from the written Torah.

But surprisingly, even Miller doesn’t go this far.  He writes that “God taught him only the general principles” (based on a midrash).  Why?  Miller cites Joseph Albo (a 15th c. rabbi) for the proposition that “it is not feasible that the Torah would have been given in a comprehensive manner… because new types of human interaction and conduct arise constantly and they are too vast in scope to be included in a book.”  Thus, Moses was given general principles “from which the sages of each generation would be able to innovate further points of law.”

I am kind of surprised to see someone as far right as Miller admit that halacha is mostly man made.


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